Just watch it. This is a film that was meant to create conversation. True conversation that reflects the world we live in today.
“Detroit” shows the ugly side of history in the city, and when it tries to let up, it never let’s go of the everlasting pain it had provided.
The film is separated into three parts, which mostly revolve around the 1967 Detroit Riots and what would be known as The Alsiers Motel Incident.
With Kathryn Bigelow’s direction, audience members really get a feeling of the escalation, as riots, fires and brutality between police and people erupted.
The cinematography, sound design and editing are firing at all cylinders, and there are just enough wide angles to let viewers know from the beginning that this really felt like a war at home.
As the riots are introduced, Bigelow treaded between politics and race relations in the city of Detroit, but really pushed the narrative after setting the scene without stirring too much in the pot.
Once the focus shifts to the main characters, the human element and the dramatic focus never lets up.
John Boyega portrays Melvin Dismukes, a part-time security guard for a store during the riots that sees what would soon be a horrifying takeover of the Alsiers Motel by police.
Boyega creates a humble and sympathetic outsider character that is able to hold the audience into what is essentially a horror show of civil rights tossed out of the window.
Without giving too much away, every actor acts as a role meant to breathe life into plot threads that would later be impacted by the events, while also providing different perspectives of the crimes committed.
The definite breakout roles came from Algee Smith and Will Poulter.
Smith plays a charismatic lead that much of the film follows during and after the incident.
A transformation of his character’s mannerism, emotional state and way of life is one that is pulled off incredibly by Smith, and will surely bring some nominations.
Poulter essentially plays the main police officer that is the catalyst of the incident.
It was harrowing to see Poulter play a cop who flaunts his power, yet believes they are doing the right thing.
His ferocity but sense of duty was what really made the conflict work: Poulter was not just playing some stereotypical racist cop, but one that is subtle, smart and focused.
Explicit racism tends to be Hollywood’s way of painting the obvious bad guys or show intolerance and ignorance.
“Detroit” managed to paint a much more realistic picture by demonstrating how the implicit and explicit racism served as equally destructive to society.
As much of the documented research and evidence went throughout the film’s accounts of the incident, I feel that “Detroit” was able to mix a fantastic narrative with compelling character moments that create a strong crime/thriller that engages the audiences in more ways than one.
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